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Southern Caviar

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Southern Caviar
Photo by Christopher Shane

Certain friends of mine, to go unnamed, go bonkers each year for caviar. By this I mean they lose all sense of decorum to get at the stuff, hording and scooping it up in greedy gulp-fuls at the expense of all other guests, morphing into human vacuums of this rare delicacy.

Little do they know, caviar is becoming more and more accessible and affordable, right here on our own shores, even right here in the South. Earlier this year, I hung out with Chef Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who told me about NC-based distributor Caviar Star. Sure enough, there are stellar caviar options to be sourced south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Keep this in mind if you’re looking for a little salty goodness to pair with champagne for the New Year (just as McCrady’s did in this issue’s Oh! Pair). Here are a few varieties to try:

American Bowfin Caviar  /  Brownish-black pearls harvested from the Bowfin, a fish dating to prehistoric times that thrives in the waterways of Louisiana. The taste is earthy and tangy, a less expensive substitute to sturgeon caviar.

La Paz Siberian Caviar  /  Farm-raised in Happy Valley, North Carolina, this mountain sturgeon boasts a buttery flavor.

Mote Marine Sustainable Siberian Caviar  /  Mindfully farmed by the folks at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida, these brownish-black little pearls are smooth, mild and silky to the tongue.

American Hackleback Sturgeon Caviar  /  A jet-black, firm, savory caviar harvested from the “hackleback sturgeon” a.k.a. “shovelnose sturgeon” in the estuaries of the Mississippi River.

Rainbow Trout Caviar  /  Orange roe from farm-raised rainbow trout in North Carolina with a mild, delicate flavor, available plain, or smoked with apple and cherry wood.

Paddlefish Sturgeon  /  Harvested from waters in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas, these curious looking fish possess snouts like a duckbill, and yield dark steel grey roe.